Who was the first European to reach the coast of Australia?

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It is known that the colonization of Australia began thanks to the discoveries of James Cook.It was he who announced the new land owned by the Crown, gave the names of capes and coves, mapped the coastline of the continent.But of course, things are not so simple.The first Europeans reached the coast of Australia is not Cook.He had many predecessors, flying the flag of the biggest maritime powers of the time: Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.

Terra Australis

Even in ancient times, Europeans have guessed that in the Southern Hemisphere should be the continent of the Northern Hemisphere land balancing.This mythical continent was a source of inspiration for explorers and cartographers.In its quest to enrich the Europeans were hoping that Terra Australis would be rich and fertile.But they did not attempt a targeted search: the fact that high latitude sailors did not promise anything good.They are famous for their constant storms, and on their own to no one swam.In addition to the storm sailors feared dense fog.It is the latter, presumably, are the reason that Australia was discovered later than the surrounding islands.


If we argue about who first reached the shores of Australia, it makes sense to mention the natives who inhabited the continent about 40,000 years ago.Their ancestors came from Asia and were able to move to Australia because in those days the land had a slightly different shape.Subsequently, indigenous Australians were isolated from the rest of the world, and their culture developed very slowly.Therefore, the European conquerors with one voice called them "miserable."

who first reached the shores of Australia?

In the early 16th century, Portuguese colonialists mastered the Sunda Islands.Local residents told them of the lands lying to the south-east.The Portuguese landed on the north-western shores of the continent, examined them and found it futile.Some evidence of their stay here they have left: a few centuries on the shores of Roebuck Bay found Portuguese guns.

In the mid-16th century, was discovered another new land relatively close - Papua (New Guinea).All the islands have been found in these latitudes (usually by accident), were perceived as part of the Unknown South Land, but neither the Portuguese nor Spanish is not new territory intrigued.The banks were too severe, and the people - the poor.Although the mainland coastline has been partially mapped, history has not preserved the name of the captain, who was the first European to reach the coast of Australia.

activities of the East India Company

By the time the search for Terra Australis interested in Dutch, Spanish navigators (Mendanya, Quiros and Torres) discovered the island of Santa Cruz, as well as the Marquesas and the Solomon Islands, and proved that New Guinea Southern Earthis not.In the early 17th century, the Dutch seized the Portuguese Sunda Islands, founded the East India Company and engaged in trade with India and Southeast Asia.

course that Dutch ships were in the Asian colonies, can significantly save time, moreover, lay relatively close to the hypothetical South Land, which the Dutch have actively sought.It is believed that the first Europeans reached the coast of Australia Dutch captain Willem Janszoon.This fact is documented.Residents of Cape York Peninsula met sailors Janszoon more than unfriendly, and the captain hastened to sail.This happened in 1606.

Swimming Tasman

Despite the negative reviews Janszoon about the new land and its inhabitants, the East India Company continued to send their ships in local waters.The new governor of Batavia (Jakarta) - Anton Van Diemen - commissioned in 1642 Abel Tasman in whatever was to find new land.

Despite the storm, the ships reached the shores of Tasman unharmed the next island, which was named Van Diemen's Land, and years later renamed Tasmania.Abel announced its possession of the Dutch, but he did not understand that before him - a part of the island or the mainland.Then he discovered New Zealand, which the Europeans did not know, and the islands of Tonga and Fiji.It was found that all previously found the island is not part of the continent, conventionally called "New Holland".The boundaries of the unknown South Land receded farther south.

Dampier in Australia

Swimming Tasman were unprofitable.In addition, in the mid-17th century, Holland suffered a series of defeats by England and lost its high status.Studies of the southern seas do the British.Of these, the first to reach the shores of Australia, William Dampier.Twice he sailed to Australia (New Holland) made a study of the north-western shore and has written two books about it.Thanks to them, a new continent became known to the world (the Dutch all their findings kept secret).

first trip to Cook

Lieutenant James Cook became famous for his ability to navigation and cartography.Therefore, it is the British government went to explore New Zealand and its surroundings.However, officially, he had only to observe the Venus passing across the solar disk (this event is of interest to astronomers).In addition, James commissioned "stake out" all found their land.When Cook reached the Australian was in 1770.The expedition studied more than 1,600 km east coastline.These lands lieutenant called New South Wales.

in several strategically important harbors his sailors hoisted the British flag.Cook also discovered and studied the Great Barrier Reef and found that New Zealand is formed by two islands.

Important discoveries

When James Cook reached Australia, he landed in the bay, later known as Botany Bay.Here, the British saw the strange plants and animals that were not found in their home countries.It is believed that the bay was named Botany Bay on the initiative of the ship scientist Banks.At this point, the team immediately began conflicts with the indigenous population.In fact, the British colonization of Australia began with the destruction of local residents, which in those days was considered to be inferior.

not very far from the Botany Bay, Cook found a very convenient harbor, which, of course, the government said.Later there came the first in a new continent city - Sydney.Seafarers proceeded along the east coast, and then skirted the northern and.Cook gave names to all the important locations and draw maps coastline.The British were not interested in who first reached the shores of Australia.He was important to announce the awarding of these territories.So they left all sorts of evidence of their stay, they put up flags and carefully documented their actions.

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James Cook returned to the shores of New Zealand, during the next trip, but in Australia no longer landed.His task was to prove that the mysterious southern continent still exists.And when Cook reached the shores of Australia, he knew exactly, unlike their predecessors, which is located in New Holland, and not somewhere else.

ships crossed the Arctic Circle, and went so far as to high latitudes, which met with icebergs and pack ice.Cook made the logical conclusion that if the Southern Continent, and there, you can not get to him, and he is not of interest, as covered in ice.

As for Australia, it is already 17 years after its official opening in Botany Bay ship with convicts arrived from England, who had to start a new life here.


can not say with certainty who was the first European to reach the coast of Australia, but it was not Cook.His merit is that he almost opened the continent again, examined it carefully, and paved the way for subsequent colonization.